Degree and Other Studies in Design-Based Learning

entrance to DBL lab at Art Center

Design-Based Learning at Art Center College of Design

Since 2001, Art Center’s Public Programs department has offered an intensive five-day Design-Based Learning Summer Institute, in addition to year-round DBL classes, seminars and conferences. Scholarships are available. For more information, visit, or contact Paula Goodman, director, K-12 Programs. Call 626.396.2347, or e-mail

Design-Based Learning at Cal Poly Pomona

At California State Polytechnic University at Pomona the theory behind Design-Based Learning is taught. Courses form the foundation for a Master of Arts Degree in Education, Curriculum and Instruction - Elementary and Secondary: Design-Based Learning or a Certificate Program for those not needing an MA degree. Cohort groups start in Spring quarter of each year. The group completes the sequence of Core Courses together, with each course building on knowledge from the previous course. This cohesiveness creates a group of teachers who support one another throughout the M.A. program, and long after.


  • for K through 12 teachers
  • project based, classroom practice replaces a theoretical thesis
  • cohort groups continue together as a support group throughout the program
  • meets at a local school board district rather than at Cal Poly Pomona campus
  • takes two years or less
  • develops high level thinking and reasoning that improves academic performance in reading, math, language, science and social science basic skills
  • targets multiple learning modalities and creativity
  • integrates technology through design-based learning
  • unifies and organizes the curriculum with a physical 3D learning project
  • gives students experience with how things operate together to make a community
  • provides tangible evaluation techniques

To join the next cohort group contact Professor Doreen Nelson for additional information and assistance at (310) 471-0090 or email


two teachers at summer institute

MA Courses - Core Design-Based Learning Courses: 20 units

Introduction to Design-Based Learning
GED 540 - 4 units

 Presents hands-on techniques for teaching required standards in grades K-12 to improve student performance and evaluation.  Studies effective methods for promoting intellectual and social development.  Provides practical examples and guidebooks of how to integrate subjects from various State Curriculum Frameworks based on a method known as City Building Education. This is a course for students of graduate standing in education only.  No technical design skills are needed.

Design-Based Learning as a Process
GED 541 - 4 units

Examines current research of methodologies that use hands-on learning to promote higher level thinking.  Topics include non-specific transfer of learning among spatial, visual, aural, and written domains.  Develops long range curriculum plans specific to the students’ classrooms.  Prerequisite: GED 540

Making Curriculum Physical
GED 547 - 4 units

Studies processes, tools, and techniques used to visualize, display, and organize information . Provides practice with a variety of mechanisms and methods for envisioning basic curriculum and linking it to any subject matter.

Organizing Time, Space, and Human Resources
GED 548 - 4 units

Presents the classroom as a micro-world to study organization.  Examines the logic of how things, space, people, and time fit together in relating the classroom to the curriculum.  Prerequisites: GED 540, GED 541, and GED 547

Developing Curriculum Presentations with Technology            
GED 549 - 4 units

Combines all the elements for long-range curriculum planning into formal visual presentations for students and educators.  Prerequisites: GED 540, GED 541, GED 547, and GED 548.  Minimum computer literacy, specifically the ability to use the World Wide Web on the Internet.

For further information contact Professor Doreen Nelson, (310) 471-0090 or email